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Liquid Helium tanks

Liquid helium tanks for space applications

Helium is used in space applications, in particular to ensure the pressurization of launch vehicles' cryogenic tanks or as a coolant for satellites' optical parts. We have developed supercritical and superfluid helium cryostats to carry out this function while increasing the mass of helium available and reducing the size of storage tanks.

They are composed of an internal shell for storing liquid helium, covered with multi-layer vacuum insulation and an external shell that is subjected to the external environment. Thermal panels can then be added to increase the cryostat's efficiency and ensure the helium remains at low temperatures for several years in orbit.

Exceptional leak-tightness

  • Volume ǀ 1 332 litres
  • Mass ǀ 224 kg
  • Useful life ǀ 5 ans
  • Leak rate ǀ 10-9 mb.l/s

A few key benefits

  • Proven experience ǀ LHESS supercritical helium tanks have been fitted on Ariane 5 since its first launch in 1996, thereby proving their efficiency and robustness. Moreover, they have been continuously improved to increase their performance
  • Quality standards ǀ These cryostats are produced according to European space quality standards in a controlled environment. We have several 100 to 100,000-class clean rooms to ensure a level of cleanliness that is compatible with the end use
  • Bespoke services ǀ We can provide storage services, supply helium, and monitor pre-launch implementation operations
  • Adaptability ǀ We can design and manufacture cryostats that are suited to any project
  • An on-site test zone ǀ Our cryostats are tested in a cryogenic environment in our test zone
  • Compliance with standards ǀ In accordance with ESA and CNES space standards

Mission accomplished for Herschel

Launched on May 14th 2009, Herschel,  the largest space telescope, contained more than 2300 liters of liquid helium, stored in a high tech cryogenic tank, designed and manufactured by Air Liquide. The liquid helium is used to cool the instruments of the elescope to close to absolute zero. Herschel made ​​numerous scientific observations in the Universe and sent a wealth of data that has yet to be studied.

In the framework of this program, Air Liquide has moreover delivered other equipment, in particular a second liquid helium tank for tests on the ground, helium transportation lines, as well as heat shields that insulate the tanks and instruments from the exterior environment.

Solid references

  • Ariane European launcher
  • Herschel satellite